The new face behind the bench of the Winnipeg Jets says he turned down three other coaching opportunities before agreeing to terms with Winnipeg.
Head coach Rick Bowness re-introduced himself to the city as the third head coach in Jets 2.0 history, when he spoke to media alongside GM Kevin Cheveldayoff Monday morning.
It’s official ✍️
Welcome back to our new Head Coach, Rick Bowness! pic.twitter.com/Lh3ZZPutvn
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) July 3, 2022
Bowness, 67, is a blast from the past for Winnipeg hockey fans, having played 45 games in a Jets uniform in 1980-81, and spending more than a decade behind the bench of the city’s original NHL team as an assistant coach and head coach.
Most recently, he led the Dallas Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup final. After being let go from the Stars at the end of the season, Bowness said he wasn’t actively seeking a job, but hoped for a chance with a contender.
“I had turned down three other coaching opportunities, not at the head position,” he said.
“I wasn’t interested in going to a rebuild. I’ve done all that. If I was going to get back into coaching, two things were important — just to work with good people, and that’s an important thing at this stage in my life and my career.
“The other thing I wanted to do was work with a good team that has a chance, and this team has a chance.”
Bowness replaces interim head coach Dave Lowry, who took over for longtime bench boss Paul Maurice, who stepped down partway through last season.
In recent weeks, the Jets had been involved in a high-profile pursuit of Manitoba-born coach Barry Trotz, until the veteran coach made the decision to take a step back from the game to spend time with family.
Cheveldayoff said Bowness was next on his list after Trotz declined the position.
“Barry made the decision to take care of his family which is an admirable one,” Cheveldayoff said
“When that decision became apparent, I immediately turned my attention over to Rick.”
The GM said he hadn’t wanted to approach Bowness sooner and potentially miss other opportunities while the team waited for Trotz’s decision.
For his part, Bowness said he has no hard feelings about being the Jets’ number-two option.
“If I’m in (Cheveldayoff’s) chair, I’m going after Trotzy too, with his resume,” he said.
“Do I feel bad about second choice? Absolutely not, because I would’ve done the same thing.”
Our new associate coach Scott Arniel
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) July 4, 2022
At the news conference, Bowness also confirmed the hiring of former Jet Scott Arniel as an associate coach.
Arniel also spent time with the Manitoba Moose as a player at the end of his career, followed with a stint as coach that saw the team reach the Calder Cup finals in 2008-09.
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